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Provide a copy of the letter to your Tester. After completing the test, the Tester will submit the results to Charleston Water System.
Compliance with our backflow requirements is the responsibility of the water account holder. If you are renting a home or commercial space, your landlord or property management company may agree to take care of the backflow installation and/or annual testing, but it is the ultimately the account holder's responsibility.
If you hire someone to install it, provide him with a copy of the letter and installation guidelines enclosed in the letter.
Once it's installed, you or the installer should contact us to request an inspection. If it passes inspection, the final step is to have it tested by a tester from our List of Approved Backflow Testers.
Backflow prevention assemblies have internal seals, springs, and moving parts that are susceptible to wear and failure. Annual testing ensures they are functioning properly and protecting our public water system.
We do require backflow tests to be performed by Testers on our List of Approved Backflow Testers.
Backflow requirements vary for commercial customers based on the business's water use. Our staff reviews newly established commercial water accounts to assess the degree of backflow hazard and notifies businesses about backflow requirements.
Backflow prevention devices protect plumbing systems and our public water supply by preventing backflow.
Backpressure can also cause backflow. Backpressure occurs when a building's plumbing system has higher pressure than the public water supply.
Both situations can allow water and contaminants from a private plumbing system to reverse flow into the public supply, potentially contaminating the water for other users. Backflow preventers keep this from happening.
Hose-bib vacuum breakers are inexpensive and available at hardware stores. They have been required by the Standard Plumbing Code since 1963.
To eliminate these backflow requirements, the irrigation system must be physically disconnected from your plumbing system.
If your irrigation system is served by the same water service that serves your home or business, you can have the irrigation system cut and capped. Once this is complete, contact us to schedule an inspection.
If your irrigation system is served by a separate irrigation meter, contact us to close the account and we will lock or remove the meter.
Use the link below to submit a leak adjustment request, or call our Customer Service Department at (843) 727-6800. Leak Adjustment Request Form
Customers who fill a pool are eligible for an adjustment to the associated sewer charges once every five years.
More info: Customer Service (843) 727-6800 / email.
Not at this time.
We only offer Auto Draft from a bank account because we’ve opted not to store customer credit card info. Sign up for Auto Draft here or complete the form on the back of your bill.
If you live inside the city of Charleston, your bill includes a charge for City of Charleston Storm Water Utility. We act as a billing and collection agent for this fee, but we do not determine the fee, nor are we responsible for storm water drainage.
Questions: contact the City of Charleston Storm Water Dept. (843) 724-7246
Our water and sewer rate structures both include a minimum bill, which is a monthly charge for service availability and up to 2 Ccf (1,496 gallons) of water consumption.
The minimum bill is designed to recover the costs associated with making service available, including costs related to metering and billing and infrastructure. The water minimum bill also pays for the costs associated with providing water for fire protection, one of our key functions.
These costs remain constant regardless of whether you use any water in a billing period.
It is a separate water meter that is only used for irrigation. Because water used for irrigating does not flow into the sewer system, irrigation accounts are not billed for sewer.
If you frequently water your lawn or garden, or add water to a pool, you may want to consider applying for an irrigation meter.
Learn more about our sewer rates
These filters improve the aesthetics of water (improve taste and odor) but do not remove harmful bacteria. Learn about the your filter by contacting the manufacturer or NSF International, an independent testing group (Ph: 1-800-673-8010). If in doubt, boil your water or use bottled water.
An advisory or notice remains in effect until test samples show the water is safe to drink. Testing for bacteria requires 16 hours to complete.
We repeal a precautionary advisory or notice when we confirm the water is safe to drink. Stay tuned to local media for updates. We will also post updates on this website and place an automated message on the Customer Service phone system at (843) 727-6800.
A Boil Water Notice must be issued under the following circumstances:
These situations are not the only times when an advisory or notice should be issued. Specific situations, upon consultation with DHEC, may also require an advisory or notice.
A 'Do Not Use Notice' will be issued if there is a contaminant in the water that may be inhaled or otherwise harmful on contact.
The water treatment process removes these bacteria from the water, but events such as a water main break or a loss of pressure in the water distribution system may allow these bacteria to enter water lines through cracks in pipes or back-siphoning from a residential plumbing system. Boiling water vigorously for 1 minute will kill these bacteria and make water safe to drink.
A Boil Water Advisory (BWA) is a precautionary public statement advising customers to boil tap water before consuming it. They’re issued when an event has occurred allowing the possibility for the water distribution system to become contaminated. An advisory does not mean that the water is contaminated, but rather that it could be contaminated. Since the water quality is unknown, customers should assume the water is unsafe to drink and take the appropriate precautions. An advisory is different from a Boil Water Notice, which is issued when contamination is confirmed in the water system. During a notice, all customers must boil their water before consuming it or use bottled water.
After an advisory or notice has been lifted (if contamination of the water system did occur), you should flush household pipes, ice makers, water fountains, etc. prior to using for drinking or cooking. Flushing simply means letting the water run to ensure that no contaminated water remains in your pipes. Follow the these guidelines for flushing:
If a hurricane is about to impact our service area, then the Charleston Water System may, after consultation with SCDHEC, issue a Boil Water Advisory as a precautionary measure.
After the storm:
- We look for damage to our system and make any repairs as quickly as possible.
- If tests show the water is safe to drink, we lift the Boil Water Advisory.
- If tests indicate bacterial contamination, we issue a Boil Water Notice.
- Stay tuned to media reports for instructions.
We encourage homeowners to consider their individual situation and decide if the service line protection plan is a good fit for them.
The total cost to install a ¾” domestic irrigation meter is $535. That includes a $500 tap fee, which covers the cost to install and connect the new meter, and a $35 account origination fee. This fee is nonrefundable or transferable. It’s important to note that irrigation accounts require you to install a backflow prevention device and have it tested annually by an approved tester. A certified plumber or contractor can install a backflow preventer for you. The cost will depend on the type of device required and the installation labor.
Commercial accounts are charged both a tap and impact fee based on meter size. In most cases, an irrigation meter can be very cost effective because commercial accounts are charged wastewater based on 100 percent of their water use fees. Tap and Ipact Fees cover the cost for the Charleston Water System distribution system to install and connect the new meter. A $35 account origination fee is also charged for creation of the new account. This fee is nonrefundable and nontransferable. It is important to note that irrigation accounts require installation of a backflow prevention device. These devices must be tested annually by an approved tester. A plumber or contractor can install a backflow preventer for you. The cost will be determined by the type of device required and the installation labor. Annual testing fees vary, so it’s a good idea to call around for pricing, but be sure to use a Charleston Water System approved tester.
Your savings depends on where you live and your water use. Most customers see a payback on the up-front cost of installing the irrigation meter in 4 to 5 years. For a savings and payback period estimate, call (843) 727-6800, or email us. *One important thing to consider is how getting an irrigation meter will affect your domestic sewer bill if you live in a single family home. You won’t pay any sewer charges for water used through an irrigation meter, but your sewer bill for your residential account will increase slightly because your domestic sewer charges will be calculated based on 100% of your domestic water usage instead of 95%.
Complete the Application For Service form. If you have any questions, contact us at 843-727-6800 or email us.
Additionally, our backflow requirements must be met before we will activate the irrigation service. We require irrigation accounts to have a backflow prevention assembly in order to protect our water system against contamination from backflow.
Charleston Water System does not install or test backflow preventers. Customers are responsible for installing backflow preventers in accordance with our requirements and having them tested annually.
For more information:
Backflow requirements for residential customersBackflow requirements for commercial customers
Please see our tap and impact fee schedule.
Water pressure varies by area, and water system design calculations must be based on the results of flow testing. We will perform a flow test upon request for a fee. Request a flow test: Hydrostatic Flow Test Request Form.
Contact the Purchasing department to request a Vendor Application form. Completing and returning the form will guarantee placement on the bidder’s mailing list.
No, we are fortunate to have an abundant water supply, even during a drought.
Yes, our source water includes naturally occurring fluoride (approximately 0.15 mg/L), and we adjust the level to approximately 0.7 mg/L during the treatment process.
Drinking Water Fluoridation (Position Statement)Adopted by the Board of Commissioners October 24, 2017The Charleston Water System (CWS) supports the recommendations of the World Health Organization, American Medical Association, Canadian Medical Association, Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), American Dental Association, Canadian Dental Association, South Carolina Dental Association and other professional organizations in the medical community, for the proper fluoridation of public water supplies as a public health benefit. We also support regular scrutiny of the most current peer reviewed research on fluoride and the positions of the medical and dental community.We adjust the naturally occurring level of fluoride in our drinking water in a responsible, effective, and reliable manner that includes monitoring and controlling fluoride levels as mandated by state and/or federal laws, regulations and recommendations. We carefully monitor and adjust potable water to achieve the scientifically recommended concentration of fluoride for protection against dental caries, which is 0.7 parts per million. Our annual cost for this program is about $110,000, which equates to $0.25 per person across the approximately 450,000 people in our water service area.The CWS participates in the fluoridation of water under the guidance of the South Carolina Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC), Oral Health Division. SCDHEC coordinates their program in conjunction with the CDC and the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.If there are questions regarding these programs, please contact:SCDHECDivision of Oral Health2100 Bull Street, Columbia, S.C. 29201P: (803) 898-9577F: (803) 898-2065
We use chlorine dioxide and chloramines (a compound formed by combining ammonia and chlorine) to protect against harmful microorganisms.
Chloramines are more stable than chlorine in the water distribution system, and chloramine residuals help maintain consistent water quality. The amount of disinfectant is carefully measured to the lowest level needed to keep the water free of disease-causing organisms. Learn more about the water treatment process.
Charleston Water System prevents the corrosion of lead plumbing into water by adjusting the properties of our water. We add a corrosion inhibitor during the treatment process, which forms a molecular barrier between the pipe and the water inside.
The results of our lead testing are well below the USEPA’s limit of 15 parts per billion (ppb). Lead testing results are included in our most recent water quality report.
As an extra precaution, customers can minimize the potential for lead exposure by flushing out water that has been sitting in your home’s plumbing for several hours or more. Just let your water run for up to two minutes before using it for cooking or drinking.
Charleston Water System offers free lead tests. Testing kits are available at our office locations: 103 St. Philip St., Downtown, and 6296 Rivers Ave., North Area.
No. We use chloramines (a combination of chlorine and ammonia) to disinfect drinking water which are harmful to fish and other aquatic life. There are a number of products available at pet stores to remove chloramines from your fish tank.
Our tap water is safe for dog, cats, and other non-aquatic pets.
If the public water system becomes contaminated or a situation allows the possibility of contamination (such as a water main break or loss of system pressure), we will issue a Boil Water Advisory.
The SC Department of Health and Environmental Control (SCDHEC) requires the issuance of a Boil Water Advisory under certain conditions, such as widespread loss of system pressure or a large water main break.
If an advisory is issued, we will notify customers in a variety of ways, depending on the area affected. During an advisory, customers should bring water to a vigorous boil for at least one minute and let it cool before using for cooking or drinking. This will kill any bacteria that may be in the water.
We treat water from the Edisto River and the Bushy Park Reservoir, both of which are surface water sources. The water is treated at our Hanahan Water Treatment Plant, which is permitted to treat up to 115.4 million gallons per day (mgd).